Warriors

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 114-111 win in Game 2 vs. Blazers

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 114-111 win in Game 2 vs. Blazers

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OAKLAND -- For much of the season, the Warriors' complacency has led to massive letdowns. Game 2 of the Western Conference finals almost provided Golden State's latest contribution to the trend, but the Warriors came back to beat the Portland Trail Blazers in a 114-111 win Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

Despite facing a 15-point halftime deficit, Golden State rallied in the fourth quarter, capped by a strong defensive stand in the final seconds by Andre Iguodala that gave the Warriors a two-games-to-none lead in the best-of-seven series.

That lead should give the Warriors some comfort as they head to Portland for Games 3 and 4 this weekend.

For now, here are the takeaways from an entertaining Game 2. 

Warriors take the fourth quarter

After coasting for much of the night Golden State, finished the game on a 14-3 run that was keyed by the defensive exploits of Draymond Green. He passed, blocked and shot the Warriors back into a game the team had no business winning. 

It's fitting Green was crucial down the stretch. After Kevin Durant went out with a calf injury in Game 5 of the NBA playoff second-round series with the Houston Rockets, Green averaged 12 points, 10.6 rebounds and 7.6 rebounds entering Thursday evening.

“If we compete can’t nobody can beat us, and even sometimes when we don’t compete people still can’t beat us," Green told reporters during a routine regular-season media scrum two months ago.

He proved those words to be true once again Thursday.  

Splash Brothers arrive

The opposition is usually in trouble when just one of either Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry has a high-scoring game. Both showed up for Golden State on Thursday.

Thompson scored 13 of his 24 points in the third quarter -- helping the Warriors overcome a 15-point deficit -- while Curry finished with a game-high 37. 

With Kevin Durant out for at least the rest of the series, the scoring burden will fall on these two, which will certainly prompt a sense of nostalgia from Warriors fans. But if they can continue their binge from Game 2, Golden State should be in good shape. 

[RELATED: Sonya Curry was too nervous before Game 2]

Complacency rears its ugly head

Lack of focus has hindered Golden State since the season began eight months ago. It manifested once again in the second quarter Thursday, as the Warriors were outscored 34-21.

Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who the Warriors kept scoreless through the first 12 minutes, scored 10 points in the second frame. That included three moonshots from 3-point range, helping the Blazers to a 65-50 lead into halftime. 

While the Warriors dominated the rest of the way, their second-quarter performance was indicative of their lackadaisical-at-times mindset that appeared throughout the season. They can beat just about anyone in the league when they're engaged, but when they aren't, they can be beaten down the line. 

Warriors' Steph Curry participates in drills, inching closer to return

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USATSI

Warriors' Steph Curry participates in drills, inching closer to return

SAN FRANCISCO -- After a full month of increasingly intense individual workouts, Stephen Curry on Tuesday joined his Warriors teammates on the practice court for the first time since last October.

That wasn’t quite enough for Curry, though, as he then stayed behind for individual shooting drills after most of the Warriors had wrapped up their sessions and headed for the showers.

The only indication that Curry’s return is not imminent was his attire. He was the only player wearing a red jersey, signifying “no contact” status.

“We were calling him Tom Brady today,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the team’s first practice after the All-Star break. “Don’t touch Steph.”

“But he took part in everything, other than our scrimmage. We scrimmaged at the end, and he didn’t do that. But he took part in everything else and he’s looking great.”

Though there is no official date for Curry’s return -- he underwent surgery to repair a fracture of the second metacarpal of his left hand -- the Warriors are scheduled to issue an update on March 1. If all goes well, it’s conceivable Curry would immediately begin scrimmaging, with a possible return a few days later.

Asked about Klay Thompson’s status, Kerr indicated he’s not expecting Curry’s sidekick to return this season.

“With Steph, there’s a definite timetable,” Kerr said. “It’s easy to look and say that in a couple weeks, Steph is going to be ready to play. I don’t know exactly what day.

“But Klay is a long way from that. I don’t even entertain any thoughts of Klay playing this year.”

While Thompson is rehabbing a surgically repaired torn ACL, which often requires a year or more before making a full recovery, Curry met all recovery benchmarks in the wake of fracturing his left hand on Oct. 30.

Curry was able to participate in defensive drills, skill work and some offensive scripting, Kerr said. He will be limited Wednesday when the team goes through its next practice.

The last step for Curry will be to endure one or two live scrimmages.

“I don’t know when he’s going to be allowed to scrimmage,” Kerr said. “It’s not this week or anything. But he looks really good. He’s gaining strength, gaining confidence. He has been putting himself through some brutal workouts, so his conditioning is about as good as it can possibly be for somebody who hasn’t been able to scrimmage.”

There has been a measure of debate within the NBA community about whether it’s wise for Curry to return to a team bound for the draft lottery. Kerr is focused on the obvious benefits, even if it’s 15 to 20 games.

“It’s going to be a different role for him,” he said. “He only got three games before his injury. It’s important for him to feel the difference. It feels different for us. With all these young guys we’re trying to teach them on the fly, a lot of things that we’ve taken for granted over the last five years, we can’t take for granted anymore. Steph needs to feel that.”

[RELATED: Light years 2.0: Lacob says Dubs 're-imagining the dynasty']

The Warriors have 27 games remaining. After March 1, that number drops to 21. Their final 20 begins with a four-game homestand from March 5 to March 12. Assuming there are no setbacks, it’s likely Curry will return during that stretch.

Warriors 're-imagining the dynasty' during down season, Joe Lacob says

Warriors 're-imagining the dynasty' during down season, Joe Lacob says

The Warriors, with their 12-43 record, are behind every team in the NBA this season. But team owner Joe Lacob still is finding ways to be "light years ahead" again. 

While Golden State is hoping to win every game, Lacob admits the front office has a lot of focus on free agency and the NBA draft. After five straight trips to the Finals, the Dubs are looking at a top draft pick this June. 

It won't be this year, but Lacob and the rest of the Warriors have their eyes on the Larry O'Brien Trophy in the very near future

“The great thing about this is we can re-imagine the next dynasty,” owner Joe Lacob told USA TODAY Sports during the NBA’s Tech Summit during All-Star weekend. “I think it’s been a good year for us to take stock with where we’re at and try to recreate.”

The Warriors traded six players before this year's NBA trade deadline. They also acquired four future second-round draft picks and a top-three protected first-round pick in 2021. Golden State's headline move was trading guard D'Angelo Russell to the Minnesota Timberwolves for small forward Andrew Wiggins. 

But the cherry on top for Lacob was the 2021 pick the Warriors received from Minnesota.

"We already had a high pick in 2020 and it's not considered the greatest draft," Lacob explained to NBC Sports Bay Area's Greg Papa during Warriors Pregame Live on Feb. 10. "But 2021, considered a very good draft. So, that was the key. It wasn't about multiple picks. It was about that pick."

[RELATED: Kerr laughs off Warriors' ugly season with funny tweet]

The Warriors will have a high draft pick this year and likely another valuable one from the T-Wolves next year. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both will be healthy to join Wiggins and Draymond Green again as well next season.

Much of this season is a mirage of what the Warriors will put on the floor at Chase Center in a few months. Every dynasty takes a break.

Rarely can a new one arise this quickly, but Lacob sure will try.